Where Smart Picks Go to Die
The NFL off-season is in full force, and we have seen many high-profile names signed. There have been quite a few teams just throwing money at players, while others have elected to sit back and sign backups to add to their depth. As a Ravens fan, I was fairly puzzled when I saw Baltimore very unwilling to re-sign key players that carried them to a Super Bowl win. With Ray Lewis retiring, I couldn’t wrap my head around letting the younger linebackers (Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger) sign elsewhere, and the Boldin trade stunned me. The Ravens have made some decent acquisitions in Canty, Dumervil, and Huff, but I don’t see this team having as much success this upcoming season compared to last year. With my Ravens rant out of the way, below I have listed, in my opinion, the top 5 teams that have used this off-season to improve. For each team, I will list every player the team traded for, signed, or re-signed, and give a quick thought about the team’s situation. Again, these are just my opinions. I am definitely not an expert on this, just a fan.
Players- WR Percy Harvin, DE Cliff Avril, DE Michael Bennett, DT Tony McDaniel, QB Josh Portis, WR Brett Swain, QB Brady Quinn. Look for- CB Antoine Winfield.
I give the Seahawks an A+ for one simple reason: They were already a playoff team with few needs, and got three starters with great potential. The trade for Harvin gives Russell Wilson another weapon in that read option offense. Harvin can line up in the slot, on the outside, or in the backfield, and there is arguably no one better in the open field. The signings of Avril, Bennett, and McDaniel gives the Seahawks two proven defensive ends, and adds depth to an all ready solid defensive line. The rest of the signings are for depth purposes only. Look for Antoine Winfield to add solid depth in the secondary once his deal is finalized.
Players- DT Terrence Knighton, DT Kevin Vickerson, CB Dominigue Rodgers-Cromartie, G Louis Vasquez, LB Stewart Bradley, WR Wes Welker, T Ryan Clady.
Two words: Wes Welker. The Broncos’ offense put up a lot of points and yards last year. Adding Welker, even at his age, will only add to those point totals and yardage stats. Welker gives Peyton Manning probably one of, if not, the best slot receivers in the game today. Last year was a step back for Wes, but look for him to improve with a change of scenery. I also like the Knighton and Vasquez signings. Knighton is a veteran who will most likely start and provide immediate help on the defensive line. Vasquez is a big mauler-type guard and will more than likely start as well. The team improves on both sides of the line significantly with these two added to the team. It also helps that they retained Ryan Clady by way of the franchise tag.
Players- WR Danny Amendola, WR Donald Jones, RB Leon Washington, CB Kyle Arrington, S Adrian Wilson, CB Aqib Talib, T Will Svitek, LB Niko Koutouvides, CB Maurquice Cole, T Sebastian Volmer, WR Michael Jenkins, DT Tommy Kelly, WR Julian Edelman. Look for- WR Emmanual Sanders.
A lot of fans believe that losing Welker to their rival will hurt the Patriots, and it might at first. I don’t think Welker leaving is going to affect this offense as much as it might seem, because his replacement is more than capable of producing. Amendola is younger, faster, and bigger. Amendola has performed well without an elite quarterback, so matching him up with Tom Brady should only make him even more scary to opposing defenses. Adrian Wilson should fill in where the Patriots lose Patrick Chung. Chung actually fell out of the starting rotation, so his loss doesn’t hurt the Patriots all that much. I like the pickup of Leon Washington. He is arguably the best kick and punt returner out there, and can even get a few carries in the backfield in necessary. the Patriots brought back a lot of their free agents, so they don’t lose a lot of talent. Keep an eye on the Emmanual Sanders situation as well. He signed an offer sheet with the Pats, but the Steelers have five days to match that offer. The Patriots look like another playoff ready team with their sights on a possible Super Bowl appearance.
Players- TE Martellus Bennett, T Jermon Bushrod, DT Nate Collins, S Tom Zbikowski, DE Turk Mcbride, CB Zack Bowman, TE Steve Maneri, CB Kelvin Hayden, RB Armando Allen, T Jonathan Scott, LB James Anderson, G Matt Slauson, QB Josh McCown, LB D.J. Williams, DE Kyle Moore, C Taylor Boggs, DT Andre Fluellen, DT Henry Melton.
The bears make the list because they improved quite a bit on both sides of the ball, especially the offense. Tight end play was below average for the Bears this past season, so adding Martellus Bennett makes sense. Bennett was a breakout type year last year and showed that he can be both a receiving and a blocking tight end. Bennett will prove to be valuable when defenses are all over Brandon Marshall. The area that needed the most help was addressed as well. If you watched just one Bears game last year it was easy to see that the offensive line was terrible. The bears have added four offensive lineman so far, and Jermon Bushrod should start right away. One other player that should see a few starts are linebackers D.J. Williams and James Anderson. Losing Urlacher is never a good thing, but these to should make up for his absence.
5. Kansas City Chiefs– A-
QB Alex Smith, CB Dunta Robinson, DE Bryan Mattison, TE Anthony Fasano, QB Chase Daniel, DE Mike DeVito, WR Donnie Avery, CB Sean Smith, T Geoff Schwartz, TE Thomas Gafford, FB Ryan D’Imperio, WR Dwayne Bowe, T Branden Albert, LB Chad Kilgore, DE Edgar Jones, C Tommie Draheim, LB Frank Zombo. Look for- #1 overall pick.
What?! The Chiefs?? I know that seems crazy seeing as how they were one of the worst teams last year, but that season is over. Don’t forget that they sent six players to the pro bowl. The Chiefs have been one of the more active teams this off-season. I truly believe trading for Alex Smith was a good choice. He will never be an elite quarterback, but he is a serviceable game manager who will keep you in the game to the end. Adding Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith bolsters their secondary. Those two players could wind up being the starters. Mike DeVito is a solid pass rusher, and when you can pressure the quarterback in this league you can win games. One thing to keep an eye on regarding the Chiefs: the #1 overall pick in this upcoming draft. If they go left tackle, Branden Albert will not want to switch sides. Do they try to add more weapons for Smith? More defensive depth? Trade down? It will be interesting to watch this situation unfold. The Chiefs should be in for a rather large turnaround.
Well, there you have it. This is my first post to this blog, and if you have made it this far, I want to thank you for reading. Since this is just my opinion, I’m sure there are a few of you out there disagreeing with at least one of my choices. Some of you might think the entire list is wrong. Like i stated earlier, I’m definitely not an expert. Let me know in the comments who you feel should be on the list